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The silver boxes below are John & Carol Krena’s vessels collection of over 150 vessels, from early works dating from c. 1914 through commissioned works made in 2022. The collection was exhibited at the Heard Museum in 2022 in the show “Elegant Vessels: A Century of Southwest Silver Boxes,” and a book/catalog was created for the event documenting this magnificent collection.

All boxes are now available for purchase.

The following boxes are part of the collection, but not available for sale.



It all started with one tiny, powerful Navajo box…

Sometime in the late 1970’s, I purchased my first Navajo container, marveling at the deceptively complex and sophisticated metalwork exhibited in this “tourist” piece. Repousse, folded metal, and perfect firework set on exquisitely formed button feet compelled me to learn more about this underappreciated form of native artistry.

So began a more than four-decade quest to find and acquire the most innovative and technically exceptional examples of Navajo and pueblo boxes, starting with the earliest examples I could locate and tracing a timeline through the C.G. Wallace era, to the mid-century masters, and culminating with commissioned pieces from several of today’s top artists.

The lids often provide a flat palette for expression unavailable on most three dimensional jewelry forms. Exquisite lapidary technique and execution combine with masterful metalwork of many of the boxes, with each example having its own unique life.

Seeking out and amassing this group has been quite a challenge, an educational and artistic journey that sincerely hope will bring pleasure to all who view these examples. My heartfelt gratitude to the Heard Museum for agreeing to present this important collection.

– John Krena


The “Elegant Vessels: A Century of Southwest Silver Boxes” book shares the most innovative and comprehensive collection of 171 Native-made silver boxes, from early works dating from c.1914 through commissioned works made in 2022.

Elegantly photographed on crisp backgrounds and fluidly grained wood tabletops from the studio of George and Mira Nakashima, “Elegant Vessels” documents this important collection, providing a historical introduction to silver boxes and curated details. Featured works are from artists once known, matriarchs of silversmithing, to some of today’s top artists.

© 2022 by Four Winds Gallery, Pittsburgh

Artistic photography by Evan Sanders and word by Robert Bauver.

Published to coincide with the exhibition Elegant Vessels: A Century of southwest silver boxes, organized by the Heard Museum, and presented Fall 2022.
Hardcover, 152 pages. 12 1/4″ x 9 3/4″ x 3/4″



October 7, 2022 – March 5, 2023

More than 75 boxes from the collection were exhibited at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, in the show:

Elegant Vessels: A Century of Southwest Silver Boxes.

The exhibition ran October 7, 2022 – March 5, 2023 in the Kitchell Gallery, and featured what we believe to be the most comprehensive collection of Native-made silver boxes in existence.

Curated by Robert Bauver, a specialist in historical silver jewelry and metalwork, the exhibition displayed more than 75 boxes, from early works dating to c. 1914 through commissioned works made in 2022. The exhibition includes the artistry of Leo Poblano (Zuni Pueblo), Leekya Deyuse (Zuni Pueblo), Kenneth Begay (Diné), Paul Saufkie (Hopi), Morris Robinson (Hopi), Fred Peshlakai (Diné), Jennifer Curtis (Navajo), and other accomplished silversmiths.

This exhibition offers visitors the unique opportunity to view the technical and stylistic evolution of Native-made silver boxes over the past 100 years from simple utilitarian containers to outstanding works of the jeweler’s art.” – Robert Bauver